Summer innovation pays off for students
By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer
An innovative gadget designed to charge cell phones in restaurants and bars is among the prize winners at the 2013 Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII). The Charge Centre, a portable battery-charging station, was created by three students taking part in the summer program, which is designed to teach skills in entrepreneurship, corporate innovation and change management.
Rico Garcia, Michael Campbell and Jason Caldwell took home one of two $30,000 prizes after creating five different versions of their device in as many weeks. It is currently available for use at a number of venues in downtown Kingston, including Jack Astor’s, The Keg, and Tango Nuevo restaurant.
Now in its second year, the QSII is a joint initiative between the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Queen’s School of Business. Over the course of the 16-week program, students from across campus work in teams to develop their own businesses or contribute to corporate innovation with an industry partner, while participating in focused seminars, workshops and hands-on mentorship.
This year’s program wrapped up on August 16 with participants pitching their ideas to a panel of judges and before an audience.
“I have had many people since Friday tell me that they were ‘blown away’ by the quality of the pitches and the ventures from QSII this year, and I agree – the bar has been raised,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of Queen’s Innovation Connector, which oversees the QSII. “The value of diversity on a team, and the value of having access to Queen’s top-notch prototyping facilities and our new maker space, SparQ Labs, were very apparent in the pitches. The range of industries and interests covered by this year’s teams was tremendous.”
As a result of the quality of last year’s pitches, Mr. Bavington says this year’s participants were vying for more prize money. “We were thrilled that a contributor recognized the promise in the QSII teams’ ventures and doubled the available prize money to $80,000 after seeing the pitches,” he says.
While the Charge Centre group took the QSII’s top prize, each participating group was recognized with funding, including Northwood (Jessie Stroebel, Mitchell Purcell, Stephen Turliuk, Andy Han and Storm Patterson) who won also $30,000. Aelius (Naomi Ng and Helena Zhang) and Govity (Lauren Sebastian, Justin Jeong , and Angelina Fomina) both won $10,000.